If you are looking to start/expand your small business, regardless of industry, check out these useful tips collected from our business experts!
Business Tip #1: Listen to your customers
Take a moment to understand who your customers are and what they want. Look for ways to improve the client experience, have FAQ sheets for your customers, or establish effective customer service strategies. The more attention dedicated to this research area, the better the outcome.
If you can’t think of any ideas on how to improve your business – ask your customers. Listen to their stories and what they need, perhaps place a suggestion box for unbiased feedback. It is essential for every business owner to find out what works and what doesn’t. Get some reviews from the people who buy your product or service when possible to find out what really speaks to them.
Business Tip #2: Be curious
“While you are running your business, make sure you always ask questions”, says Tobe Tsuchiya, Loan Program Administrator for BOC Capital. “If it seems like there is something you don’t understand, that’s an opportunity to learn. Questions are a good thing because you will probably be able to save some money in the long run.”
Some business owners will probably hire others to do the work for you, but for others the path to success may be different. Expanding your skill set will allow you to become more involved in the direction of your company and will help redirect funds toward areas of growth.
Business Tip #3: Get certified when possible
Take advantage of the many certifications offered in New York. For instance, the Minority/Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) certification is offered at the city, state, and federal levels – plus, it’s free! “As a certified business you have the ability to bid on government contracts which can help grow your business to the next level,” advises Nina Flores, Deputy Director for SIBOC. “It’s a great opportunity when the government is one of the biggest purchasers in the country.”
By becoming certified you join a network of other certified businesses where you can network, opportunities to learn and become a leader in your industry.These certifications help establish your credibility and let you stand out amongst your competitors by offering exclusive contracts for almost any industry.For example, when becoming a M/WBE certified business, it is best that you are operated for more than a year, and own at least 51% of the business and must be a US Citizen or Permanent resident. Not all certifications have the same eligibility requirements, so it is important to do your research beforehand.
Business Tip #4: Invest in trainings
Learning from experienced professionals can help answer any unresolved questions and can build relationships. Trainings connect you with other business owners and together you can create collaborative products and services.
While trainings for yourself seem like the most effective strategy towards business growth, trainings for employees, especially, help your business expand and encourage retention, suggests Katie Parks, Program Associate. “There are a lot of free resources to take advantage of for you and your employees. Register for mailing lists from organizations such as Small Business Services (SBS) and BOC Women’s of Business Center.”
Business Tip #5: Regularly review your finances
Your business is unique – it has its own series of successes and drawbacks. Regardless, weekly and monthly financial reviews are helpful in understanding your stream of income and expenses. These analyses will help paint a picture of your company’s overall financial health when it is time to make difficult business decisions.
Consider ways you can improve your performance and profitability. Perhaps you can negotiate better deals with your suppliers, or address the problems behind your products and services through pricing, marketing, design, or other potential issue. As a business owner, there are many new obstacles coming your way but knowing where you are financially will keep you one step ahead.
If you would like to connect with one of our experienced business counselors about how you can improve your business, please call BOC Capital at (718)-624-9115, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website.